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Topic: Kate and val camouflage, 7 dec 1941, Colors resolved< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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David Aiken Search for posts by this member.
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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2002,11:39  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Be aware: Change from MSN to Multiply server is in progress...thus links should be referred to:
http://japaneseaircraft.multiply.com/photos

Aloha All,
The Bronzing Lacquer "#49, type 2" (common name: "Ame" [Ame iro = Amber color]) was a clear [transparent] coat which had a brownish, caramel, amber tint. Some Japanese sources say it was made from pine needles. It was an application used on for corrosion control. It was tested on the natural metal finished [URL=http://japaneseaircraft.multiply.com/photos....mples#1 production line.
The USN used a clear transparent coat which had a brownish, caramel, amber tint...also on propellers. The Library of Congress has at least three photos depicting this product.  

While Light Bronzing Lacquer "#49, type 2", "Ame" is NOT listed in the Japanese color terms used in WWII, a transparent coat was used as a base for some paints.

The Japanese Navy color terms used in WWII are:
A - Kasshoku (browns)
B - Aka iro (reds)
C - Ki iro (yellows)
D - Midori iro (greens)
E - Ao iro (blues)
F - Ai iro (indigos)
G - Sumire iro (violets)
H - Cha iro (browns)
I - Tsuchi iro (earth, mud)
J - Hai iro (grays)
K - Kaiseishoku(gray-blues)
L - Nezumi iro (grays, "Rats-color")
M - Hairyokushoku (gray-green)
N - Azuki iro (browns, refers to a brown bean)
O - Shiro iro (whites)
P - Gin iro (silvers)
Q - Kuro iro (blacks)

"J3" has often been confused in the Western world. Once it was referenced as one of the gray-GREEN colors. We now know this to be strictly a gray (a simple gray made of a black and a white) and called "Hai iro" (gray color).

The "L" series: Nezumi iro (grays, "Rats-color") includes "L3" a very light pastel blue gray.

"I3", in Japanese color terms is "Tsuchi" (meaning: earth, mud). It is a phenolic paint, and is a tannish, brownish khaki color with a touch of green. This was found on many Kates and VALs at Hawaii. [URL=http://japaneseaircraft.multiply.com/photos....ples#71
This has often been given the misnomer "so-called Ame", and even called "gray-green" by one American researcher. I3 was used on the Nakajima Zero as an undercoat and over the primer.

The famous "iro" called "hairyokushoku" [translated "gray-green", greenish gray] is part of the "M" series of colors...used on so many Japanese WWII aircraft, was used on all Zeros at Pearl Harbor, but also was applied to select Vals and Kates. It, too, is a phenolic paint. "Japanese researchers show the Zero color in their artwork"

Uniquely, the green tint may be viewed quite prominently up close but at ten feet it gets closer to the gray we know and love. Thus the first observable change in the external pale greenish color... is that, the further from the plane, the grayer the paint scheme becomes.


[URL=http://japaneseaircraft.multiply.com/photos....ks gray
This A6M2 drop tank seemingly did not receive the red "Iron Oxide" primer.

The color I3 IS a brownish color and came out of the can in that color. I3 has nothing to do with the unique gray-green as it came from the can. [URL=http://japaneseaircraft.multiply.com/photos/album/2/Color_samples#73 I3 from Shokaku B5N is on the left and Gray-green mixed/matched to an A6M on the right[/URL]

FIELD APPLICATION over Natural Metal Finish:
In October 1941, the orders came down for VALs and KATEs of the Kido Butai to received camouflage. At that moment, these VALs and KATEs were in NMF, with silver painted on the fabric surfaces. Most had red lacquer tails.

Japanese witnesses recall that this painting had to be worked around the training schedule. KATE and VAL types were training at various airfields. Paint stocks at each of the bases were used to paint both Nakajima aircraft and Aichi aircraft. A few fields had only gray-green paint in enough quanity, then those aircraft got gray-green...while most fields had only I3. Thus you may understand there was little uniformity between aircraft carriers.

As we see from relics, the Akagi and Kaga VALs and KATEs received FIELD APPLICATIONS of greenish-gray on their undersurface. Akagi/Kaga KATEs were at Kagoshima Field. Akagi/Kaga VALs were at Tomitaka Field.

Soryu/Hiryu VALs and KATEs were at Kasanohara Field and the VALs received the gray-green while photos of the Soryu KATE BI-323 and Juzo Mori's KATE seem to have the darker khaki I3 mentioned by veterans. The Shokaku KATEs were at Usa Field and received I3. Zuikaku KATEs were there, too.

Other training fields were:
Izumi Field: Soryu/Hiryu KATEs
Oita Field: Shokaku/Zuikaku VALs

Zeros were already in a factory finish. They trained at:
Omura Field; Oita Field; and Saeki Field.

Map of Air Bases

One of the deck hands recalled getting his red lacquer and red enamel paints mixed up when he hand painted, with a stencil, the tail code onto the metal portion of the vertical stab on his plane...he muddied the camouflage paint and had to start over.

Thus from relics, photos, and witnesses:

Akagi VALs and KATEs were painted in "hairyokushoku" [translated "gray-green", greenish gray]...the KATEs were then painted over the upper surfaces with dark green. weathered gray-green...from an Akagi Val crash in the ocean A sample, recovered by a USS Raleigh crewman from the Akagi dive bomber crash on USS Curtiss, is also colored gray-green.  

Kaga VALs and Kaga KATEs were coated gray-green and were then the KATEs were covered over the upper surfaces with dark green; the Kaga KATEs' red tails was over coated with a brown, perhaps the brown used in China, to probably to aid in reforming.

Soryu and Hiryu VALs received the gray-green over all and Soryu/Hiryu KATEs were coated with I3, a tannish, brownish khaki color [which American witnesses at crash sites at Pearl Harbor called 'mustard']. The KATEs then had a thin coating of green was applied to the upper surface. The witness reports say that brown flakes were showing on these KATEs. The photo of Juzo Mori and his B5N in early 1942 shows the I3 showing through the green and newly applied paint repairs to the chipped paint using more I3.

Shokaku and Zuikaku VALs received the I3 coating...
We know that Shokaku KATEs got the I3 coating, did the Zuikaku KATEs?
The Shokaku KATEs only got a dark green application over the upper surface of the main wings and horizontal stabs...and the dorsal spine of the fuselage...
While the Zuikaku KATEs got green over all the upper surface [like Akagi].

Much ado has been made over the photo of (2nd attack wave) Ensign Kazumasa Kaneda's EII-307.
Some have made certain assumptions, but various printings have led many astray. The earliest printing is in Koku-Fan magazine March 1976 and probably is the best to understand the shades in the application: EII-307
Japanese aircrewmen and deck hands from Kaga told Japanese researchers about the brown tails...thus we looked at other photos...to find a fine line of brown to green demarcation... Then I was shown an unpublished photo of AII-316. Eight years later, that Japanese researcher made the sketch shown at: AII-316 The close up photo reveals the density on the tail, which is not red [compared to the hinomaru and tail code], but definitely not the green of the fuselage.

EII-307 had a scheme which suggested it was ex-Kaga...and, in fact, is an ex-Kaga KATE. Several changes in command structure prior to the attack were made...even at Hitokappu Bay immediately prior to heading for Oahu...this led us to search for crew transfers...and, yes, the crew transferred from Kaga...which demanded changes in markings.

The plane was painted gray-green prior to the green paint application, leaving the brown tail. The old Kaga tail code was overpainted with green and a red tail code EII-307 was applied, the rest of the brown tail still shows...the hinomaru and tail code being red is still different than the brown tail. Of course, we do not know whether the Zuikaku deck hands removed the ex-Kaga training marking under both wings of EII-307...the Fifth Carrier Division B5Ns had no such large training numbers under the wings as only the First and Second CV Divisions trained intensely to attack the warships at Pearl Harbor.

A6M2 model 21 as used at Pearl Harbor
For many years discussions in the English world have yielded little fruit. Select American researchers still say that "hairyokushoku" [meaning gray-green] is I3 (a khaki brown)...or even "Ame" [meaning brown/caramel/amber], giving reference to a pre-war application. The mixup in the readers mind is automatic...is the Zero painted gray-green or khaki I3?

The Japanese researchers have noted that the Zero was painted at the factory with the famous "hairyokushoku" [translated "gray-green", greenish gray] with a red "Iron Oxide" primer. Here is the restored Zero V-173 in the Canberra War Memorial Museum, Australia and another view of V-173. This depicts gray-green before deterioration.

The first physical change in factory applied gray-green paint is that it becomes more gray. Much of this is due to utraviolet rays in sunlight. These Japanese researchers have noted that this color faded to gray quickly in certain climates.

The second change seems to only occur because of the application of gray-green over the red "Iron Oxide" primer (as opposed to regular red enamel/lacquer paint). This seems to be a slow change, with select exceptions....the answer is still in discussion.

When the factory applied red "Iron Oxide" primer, then the external gray-green, were applied to the Mitsubishi "Zero", the Nakajima "Rufe", Kawanishi "Rex", etc......in relic samples... the colors have chemically attacked each other [oxygen catalyist]. That has made the external gray-green color to change to a greenish-khaki brown color.

"Iron Oxide" red was used for many color applications...in rug making, this ore was used for dyeing fabric red by weavers in the Caucus region of Russia, and this red oxide also attacked the fabrics used.

In 1975, I worked on the N1K1 Kyofu "Rex" now exhibited at the Nimitz Museum. I removed the masking tape, applied by the US Navy in 1945, which covered the Japanese stencils. There was a nice GRAY background behind the stencil without any brownish cast. Greg Springer took photos of one of the stencils in 1979, then in 1999 took another photo of the same stencil which shows a deteriorated brown color background. The chemical color shift toward greenish-khaki brown is obvious in Greg's photos.

The following item is from a long time s-mail correspondent from New Guinea/NewBritain, who has finally gotten an e-mail:

"Hi David, I have been browsing on the net and had a look at a site on Japanese data plates and was surprised to see that the stencil i recovered many years ago at Gasmata [first posted in Japanese Info Clearinghouse in the mid 1980s] was a subject of debate. Stencil from A6M3 Model 22

"I still recall the magic of the moment when after digging down thru the mud then carrying water in from a nearby bomb hole to wash the fuselage and seeing the start of what appeared to be part of the factory ID stencil. As previously related to you-after a #### of a lot more digging and scrapping the stencil was exposed. It was brilliant with little or no degradation [no doubt due to the protection of the relic from oxygen].The harder part was cutting it out of the crushed rear fuselarge. This i did leaving a quite large area around the stencil itself then later trimming the metal and making the stencil section more presentable. For years afterward it was pride of place on my lounge room wall. In those days i thought that there were only a very few people interested in the Zero.You being one of them. It was sold very reluctantly years later when i ran into difficulties. I can assure you that the colour that the stencil is applied to is GREY [when recovered from the muck]. I think that non-specular grey may be the correct term [residual gray shows on the surface in the scan]. Remember that this item had been submerged in a brackish swamp in the tropics and i do recall that i carefully cleaned it when i got it back to Rabaul. There was some powdering of the paint but all in all it was in good shape.The internal paint was the blue/green phenolic laquer and that was near perfect." He further explained that the browning effect is the red surface 'iron oxide' PRIMER interacting with the exterior color "I have seen this on crash sites. What people forget is that unless the surface is sealed then incipient corrosion will continue."

Thus, color shift due to chemical reaction [incipient corrosion] in select Japanese relics is established.

To have a further understanding, be sure to view the photos and artwork at: Pearl Harbor & 101 Aircraft and the I3 and gray-green color samples/relics at:
Color samples and Relics


Edited by David Aiken on Mar. 18 2009,10:54

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 12 2002,1:30 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks David... the more I learn the less I know!
For example, I don't know *HOW* I'm going to paint all my pearl harbor raiders now =/

I guess I need to wait for your book to come out ;)

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2003,1:45 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha David,
Just read your article on Kate and Val colors at PH.Just today
I was informed the Kate undersurfaces on the Akagi,Shokaku and Zuikaku were NMF.What to you think?Is it possible they could be I3 and gray-green on upper/surface (before green was applied)and still be NMF below?
Bob T  JIC #22

  :p

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 28 2003,9:00 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha Bob,
Long time...no hear...and that has been a long time! Great to hear your melodious voice!

Oh, on the folk who have not seen the sources I noted above [click on the underlined items], have them 'drop by' for a gander. I can provide more info in support.

Glad you stopped by. Please put this URL in your favorites...and come back often! Glad to have a person of your caliber here.

Cheers,
David

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PostIcon Posted on: Sep. 02 2003,10:35 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Op-ed Editorial:

Aloha All,
Mark Twain was correct, "a lie can make it halfway 'round the world before the truth gets its boots on." This is the real computer virus: misinformation. Despite years of warnings, this malady keeps creeping its way into the newsprint and onto the airwaves of mainstream news outlets.

One of the things that makes the Internet so appealing is that anyone can pull things off of it. The other side of the coin is that anyone can put anything on it. This poses a particular challenge for historians who are taught in university to give more weight to the written word (get the official records) than to something they hear--say, word-of-mouth at the corner barber shop. But the Web has both official documents and idle gossip, and manufacturers and modelers using it as a research tool--or even a tip sheet--do not always know the difference.

Case in point is a new color introduced to the world by a manufacturer based on half facts from a single source. This reminds us of the same sublime purple error of a by-gone time. Misinformation takes a half fact and twists it into a 'fact' for the unwary.

Relics have bias and should be taken along with other pieces of evidence to guide us to the truth. Sadly, another myth has been brought into our midst by belief in those relics as sole authority. What come out of a paint can does not always find its way through time and oxidation to a relic of today. Be aware of such problems and such sooth sayers.

The facts are just becoming known in Japanese research circles...and patience shall be a virtue.
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 29 2004,7:45 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

"It seemed that each Japanese aircraft manufacturer had their own colors" NOT TRUE!

Aloha All,
It is interesting that Kawasaki Ki-45 is painted "IJA Kawasaki hairyokushoku (Gray-Green)"

and Mitsubishi Ki-51 is painted "IJA Mitsubishi hairyokushoku (Gray-Green)"

and Mitsibishi A6M2 model 21 is painted "IJN Mitsubishi hairyokushoku (Gray-Green)"

and Aichi D3A is painted "IJN Aichi hairyokushoku (Gray-Green)"

...yet they are all the SAME color...

and all the hairyokushoku/gray-greens weather to a unique Gray with a touch of green...

Hummm, have we been led down the Primrose path? Each Japanese aircraft manufacturer did NOT "own" their colors.

The publication of color chip charts reveal that the differences in color is not by aircraft manufacturer but by government specification. The application by IJA and IJN of the same gray-green paint is noted above.

Yes, selection of certain color paint by aircraft manufacturers was done, and when a paint contractor ran out of a particular color (OR a unique modification on the aircraft happened), color changes occured on the aircraft production line.

AND differences in paint contractors and batches must be noted as further variables.

Gakken magazine has printed two color charts. These are from documents 0266 and 8609. They help us to get a better understanding of the Japanese colors in use at two different moments in time.

Of interest, I am told that Bunrindo has a volume on Japanese color 'in work' (date of release is not yet known), with even more color documents, which should resolve our problems with Japanese color.

Hope this helps,
David Aiken

Graham Boak responded with this excellent interpretation:
I understood the use of terms such as "Mitsubishi green" and "Nakajima green" to indicate that the greens used on these two aircraft were different (still true, I believe?). This was not an attempt to suggest that all aircraft manufacturers had their own paintworks attached, but that specific manufacturers did use specific paint producers on a consistent basis. These paint manufacturers, identity unknown to us, produced their own distinctive varieties of the specified Japanese forces colours.

It is not unreasonable to suppose that paint manufacturer A sold to Aircraft manufacturers D, E and F, whereas paint manufacturer B sold to Aircraft manufacturers C, G and H. Thus seeing the same shade on different aircraft types, yet diferent colours on the same type (where manufactured at more than one site). Throw in the possibility that a paint manufacturer could offer options of more than one shade that could be said to meet the original requirement, and the aircraft manufacturer's ability to switch suppliers in mid production - for a range of reasons - and we have the confused picture visible today.

We have to thank you for the hard work being done by researchers such as yourself, but whether this is clearing the confusion from a basically clear but misunderstood situation, or simply elaborating on what was actually a truly confused situation, I don't feel qualified to judge!

Edited by David Aiken on --

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 01 2005,5:55 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
Last night, the top Japanese WWII Aviation web site gave the world a Happy New Year gift. This is a lengthy article on Japanese color ...including the FS595 equal for most of the colors.

FINALLY we now know what colors there are OFFICIALLY and the designations for those colors! There is NO "Mitsubishi green" or "Nakajima green" color, but selections were made by manufacturers from a grouping of OFFICIAL greens.

The main index for this article is: http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cocoro/index2.htm with the page on color in the left hand column with a 'new' blinking arrow pointing to "117"...

OR go straight to the page at: http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cocoro/subw117-1.htm

I have cut and paste the article into "Alta Vista 'Babelfish'" to get a readable English version... yet the best part is at the bottom of the article: a chart of all the colors with equivilants in FS595, etc.
Cheers,
David Aiken

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 06 2005,7:48 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Aloha All,
There are TWO colors discussed and confused for many years due in part because the word "Ame" was -sadly- described in Japanese color document #0266 about a test paint scheme.

"Ame" means literally means candy-color or caramel-color, a TRANSPARENT yellowish brown, brown, or light brown, such as honey, maple syrup, and amber (the fossilized tree sap).

"iro" simply means 'color' so I shall try not repeat that word...

The prewar use of "Ame" [caramel, brownish transparent coat] iro [color] application began as protection on propellers. It was also factory applied to the first all metal Japanese fighter, the A5M. http://www.b-b.ne.jp/zero/zero006/zero006-05-6.htm

This is also shown in a color photo of 9-158 flying over China in 1940. http://groups.msn.com/japanes....toID=93

The failure of this protective surface during aircraft combat maintenance in China deleted further use of this product for the Pacific War.

A similar "Ame" color has been sighted on propellers of USN aircraft in photography posted by the Library of Congress. It MAY not be the same material.

Then came the 1942 Yokusuka ["Yo-KOOS-ka" as Japanese sailors say] #0266 report of the variety of camouflage colors used in a late 1941 TEST on several aircraft http://groups.msn.com/japanes....ID=1570
...this cited ANOTHER color application, which had the APPEARANCE of "Ame", which was "Genyo" or CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR USE FROM THE MANY COLORS AUTHORIZED {note the slight difference from some well-meaninged nay-sayers].

Confused people argued for years about "Ame" and its application when it simply was a case of TWO materials ...the TRANSPARENT "Ame" and the recognition of a paint that resembled this Ame application ...as 'having an Ame appearance'.  

In 1995, I wrote about this new-to-me color...it was NOT a TRANSPARENT application, per the definition of "Ame", but a khaki phenolic paint. It was first referenced during the  Kaga D3A VAL crash investigation at Pearl Harbor. The color was called by American sailors as "mustard".  

I commented that the "mustard" term became literally the "yellow mustard" in cover artwork for MANY wartime magazines...POPULAR SCIENCE, MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED, POPULAR MECHANICS, etc. I said that this new-to-me color was NOT "yellow mustard" depicted, but more like "GRAY POUPON"...a brown mustard. http://groups.msn.com/japanes....oID=118

In 1999, I introduced to the English world the CORRECT term for this color as I3 based on the newly found 1942 Japanese document #117. My sensei have FINALLY revealed the document to the public over NEW YEARS DAY 2005. This document truely lists the authorized colors CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FOR USE...and identifies I3. http://groups.msn.com/japanes....ID=1571

Jiro Horikoshi, the Zero designer, noted that the Prototype Zero was in "hai-ryokushoku" [which means gray-GREEN]. This color was used in the production of the Zero 11 and Zero 21. It was highly affected by ultraviolet light. Zeros in China and the Philippines show that the cockpit canvas covers protected the "hai-ryokushoku" paint, but areas not covered faded quickly to GRAY. See the artwork of Zero model 11, coded 3-112 at: http://www5d.biglobe.ne.jp/~cocoro/sub43.htm

For years in America this "hai-ryokushoku" color was THOUGHT to be the color "J3", which is cited by document #0266 as "Hai-iro" [gray-color]...and is listed in document #117 but the color swatch is missing. The color "hai-ryokushoku" actually falls in another "family" of colors in document #117!


Edited by David Aiken on Jun. 25 2006,11:33

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 07 2005,6:30 Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Two questions Aiken-san

The demarkation on 3-112 is pretty sharp. The Babelfish converted text talks about a "canvas seat" which I presume is the cover... was it like a tent in this case or more form fitting? The text seems to suggest it was more tent like to prevent rubbign wear on the canopy.

Secondly, a little off-topic perhaps but it might be a good tie-in. The first couple years that the Blue Angels were performing they had a SNJ trainer that was known as the "Beetle-Bomb." which was used to depict the enemy Japanese in a dogfight. It was painted yellow. Do you think that this could have come out of the mustard description you mentioned that was so popular during the war?

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 08 2005,5:44 Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Hi Tracy,
The canvas seat cover is the canvas tarp covering the canopy. In China and the Philippines, TWO canvas covers were used...and that second cover was pulled tight to the rear fuselage...the one cover over the wings showed a variable ...fuzzy... demarkation of color deterioration.

Ah, Beetle-Bomb...the trainers of the period were yellow, but you are probably correct about not changing the color when making the plane 'into' the mock-enemy...as many folk recognized the yellow as "Japanese".
Cheers,
David

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